Lenny's Newsletter
Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Lessons from scaling Spotify: The science of product, taking risky bets, and how AI is already impacting the future of music | Gustav Söderström (Co-President, CPO, and CTO at Spotify)

Lessons from scaling Spotify: The science of product, taking risky bets, and how AI is already impacting the future of music | Gustav Söderström (Co-President, CPO, and CTO at Spotify)

Brought to you by Microsoft Clarity—See how people actually use your product | Eppo—Run reliable, impactful experiments | Eco—Your most rewarding app

Gustav Söderström is the Co-President and Chief Product and Technology Officer at Spotify. He is responsible for Spotify’s global product and technology strategy, overseeing the product, design, data, and engineering teams. Prior to Spotify, he founded 13th Lab, a startup that was later acquired by Facebook’s Oculus. He also served as the Director of Product and Business Development for Yahoo Mobile and founded Kenet Works, a company focused on community software for mobile phones, which was acquired by Yahoo in 2006. In today’s episode, we discuss:

• How Spotify structures product teams to promote freedom of thought

• Lessons on thinking long-term and navigating negative feedback

• Why Gustav started a podcast and what he’s learned

• How AI has impacted the work PMs, engineers, and designers do within Spotify

• AI-generated music and its impact on artists

• What’s next for Spotify and Spotify Podcasting

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Google, Overcast, and YouTube.

Where to find Gustav Söderström:

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/GustavS

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gustavsoderstrom/

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/lennysan

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Gustav’s background

(04:08) The various roles Gustav has occupied at Spotify

(06:54) Why Gustav launched a podcast and what he learned

(12:37) How PMs and product teams should think about AI

(21:23) AI-generated music

(26:19) Will AI continue to be a magic trick for products?

(28:27) How Spotify organizes product teams

(34:33) How Spotify operationalized autonomy

(35:45) Why Spotify uses a centralized model for structuring their organization

(43:34) The big bet Spotify took with redesigning its interface, and what they learned

(57:26) How they tested their hypothesis before launch

(1:02:35) Gustav’s “10% planning time” methodology 

(1:03:53) How to bring energy and clarity to your work

(1:08:07) How to systematize deep thinking

(1:10:29) The peeing-in-your-pants analogy 

(1:11:38) Thoughts on how the Swedish culture is portrayed in Succession 

(1:13:30) What’s next for Spotify and Spotify Podcasting

(1:15:52) Lightning round


• Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/

• Daniel Ek: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-ek-1b52093a/

• Spotify: A Product Story podcast: https://open.spotify.com/show/3L9tzrt0CthF6hNkxYIeSB

• Spotify’s AI DJ: https://newsroom.spotify.com/2023-02-22/spotify-debuts-a-new-ai-dj-right-in-your-pocket/

• Avicii: https://avicii.com/

• DALL-E: https://openai.com/product/dall-e-2

• Stable Diffusion: https://stability.ai/

• Midjourney: https://www.midjourney.com/

• Brian Chesky: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianchesky/

Succession on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/succession

• Fjällräven: https://www.fjallraven.com/us/en-us

7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy: https://www.amazon.com/7-Powers-Foundations-Business-Strategy

Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor: https://www.amazon.com/Charlie-Munger-Tren-Griffin

The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity: https://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Aleph-Mathematics-Kabbalah-Infinity

Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime: https://www.amazon.com/Something-Deeply-Hidden

Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution: https://www.amazon.com/Helgoland-Making-Sense-Quantum-Revolution

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World: https://www.amazon.com/The-Beginning-of-Infinity

The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes—and Its Implications: https://www.amazon.com/The-Fabric-of-Reality

The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes: https://www.amazon.com/The-Case-Against-Reality-audiobook/dp/B07VL5TCVF/ref=sr_1_1

Gödel’s Proof: https://www.amazon.com/G%C3%B6dels-Proof-Ernest-Nagel

The Demon in the Machine: How Hidden Webs of Information Are Solving the Mystery of Life: https://www.amazon.com/Demon-Machine-Information-Solving-Mystery

Halt and Catch Fire on Apple TV: https://tv.apple.com/us/show/halt-and-catch-fire/umc.cmc.5s15r46uj0wx044tipm2zoh88

• Duolingo: https://www.duolingo.com/

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

Lenny's Newsletter
Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Interviews with world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.